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January 17- 11:32 am
“Mr. Jeffries, I want to thank you again for taking my case.”
Parrish looked at his young client and smiled, Julian Reeves, with his thick dreads and sagging jeans, looked just like any other kid his age. His mind, however, would rival the most intelligent fifty year olds.
“Don’t waste your time thanking me. Just concentrate on getting through all this. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think you were innocent.” Parrish assured him.
“I’m glad to hear that.” Julian said in a relieved tone. “If only I had a concrete alibi for seven-thirty on January six.”
“Well let’s look at what we do have. You say you were at this rally in the park all day, right?” Parrish questioned.
“Yeah. Me, my roommates and some friends from upstairs.”
“And nobody had on a watch or paid any attention to the time?”
“No, man…” Julian groaned. “That rally was so juiced. I mean everybody was so caught up in what was goin’ on. Changing things in school, in the neighborhoods. We were there all day and well into the night. Time was the last thing on our minds.”
“So all we have are your friend’s testimonies?” Parrish asked, more to himself that his client.
“Mmm hmm…” Julian answered. “The police ain’t about to take their word for it. Man! I feel like hittin’ somethin’.”
“Yeah I know the feelin’…” Parrish sympathized.
Julian pounded his fist against the back of an arm chair. “Those stupid cops are just houndin’ me because I’m black when they need to be findin’ the real killer.”
Parrish leaned back on the sofa and massaged the bridge of his nose. “Man, that may very well be true, but don’t give ’em the satisfaction by losin’ your cool.” He advised.
Julian frowned at the well-dressed man who didn’t look to be much older than he was. “Excuse me?”
Parrish gave a short laugh and rested his head against the back of the sofa. “Look man, don’t get me wrong. I just see so much of me in you.”
“You were bein’ charged with murder at my age?” Julian asked.
“Not quite.” Parrish clarified. “But I did have a temper, a bad one. I guess I still do. But, I couldn’t control it back them. Caused me to do a lot of stupid things.”
“But I didn’t do this.” Julian firmly denied.
“I know you didn’t. You know that as a black man, you’re always gonna be looked at that much closer than the next man. I know this has you mad as hell, but you keep how you feel under control when you’re out there.” Parrish ordered, pointing towards the window overlooking the street.
Julian slowly nodded and crossed his arms over his chest. “You say you’ve never been in my position, but you talk like you have.” He detected.
Parrish shrugged. “Well, I’ve never been in danger of losing my freedom, but I did lose something that was almost as important.”
“I just don’t believe all this! Julian wouldn’t kill anybody. Never.” Marcia Walker was saying.
Dee looked up from the picture she was holding of Julian at a rally earlier that month. She smiled at the three women and four men that surrounded her in the apartment. The young people were all friends of Julian Reeves. They all lived on the second floor of the same apartment building as Julian.
“I believe you’re right Marcia.” Dee agreed. “So you’re saying that Julian Reeves is a laid back, calm person?”
“Oh hell no!” Michael Allen proclaimed. “Julian has a real temper, but then everybody does Ms. Lincoln.”
“True.” Dee agreed.
“But,” Michael continued, “Julian channels that frustration into changing the thing that makes him angry.”
“Changing what makes him angry?” Dee asked.
Michael smiled at his own words. “I don’t mean by killing someone. I’ve never known him to be violent.”
“Me either.” Barry Little agreed. “Julian always said violence was not the way to handle problems. He blamed violence for all the crap goin’ on around here now. I really don’t think he’d give into it even if Joyner was a man he didn’t trust.”
Everyone in the room nodded as Dee made a few more notes. After a little more discussion, she wrapped things up and told the group she’d be in touch.
Outside the apartment building, Dee was leaning against the hood of her beige Altima and going over her notes. Satisfied that she had enough material for her character assessment story on Julian, she prepared to leave. When she looked up, she froze.
“Parrish? What are you doing here?”
Parrish dug his hands into the deep pockets of his black overcoat. “My client lives here.” He said, glancing back at the building.
“That’s right…How could I forget?”
Parrish let his eyes roam the length of her body. “I guess you have a lot on your mind.” He said, resting his tall, leanly muscled form against the driver’s side door of Dee’s car.
“Yeah…” Was all she managed.
“So why are you here?” Parrish questioned.
“I had a meeting with some of Julian’s friends.” She quickly answered, unable to take her eyes off the cleft in his chin.
Parrish just nodded…and stared.
“Well, I need to get going.” Dee made the move to her car door.
“What’s wrong with you?” Parrish asked, without moving away from the door.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yes you do.” He argued in the softest voice. “Why won’t you talk to me?”
Dee looked away. “That’s what we were doing.”
“You know what I mean Misha.”
“Don’t do this.” Dee shook her head.
“Do you love him?” His voice was soft.
“You heard me.”
“We’re getting married.”
“And that’s it. I don’t know what you want from me.”
“You know what I want.”
It was obvious that Parrish was still very upset by the way things had turned out between them. Dee, on the other hand, was still shaken by simply seeing him again after so much time.
“I can’t talk about this now.” She rushed over to her car door, praying Parrish would move. He did- slowly. Though she shook terribly, Dee managed to drive away without hitting anything.
“She won’t even talk to me, but I know she doesn’t love that guy. She can’t.”
Joyce Jeffries smiled, but said nothing as she listened to her son go on about Dee. Joyce hadn’t been feeling well lately, but that didn’t stop her from pampering her son one bit as she fixed him a small lunch.
Parrish was seated at the huge round table in his mother’s fabulous kitchen. He’d been talking about Dee for the past half-hour without any interruption from his mother. He was so caught up over Dee that he hadn’t noticed.
Joyce walked over to the table and placed a hearty salad in front of Parrish along with a glass of juice. She couldn’t help but smile at the tough front he was putting up, but she listened anyway.
Parrish stopped talking and dug into the salad. “You can jump in with your slammin’ advice any time here Ma.” He encouraged.
Joyce tapped one French manicured nail to her full lips and sighed. “Alright, but are you sure you want it?” She asked.
Parrish shrugged, but was still focused on his salad. “I might regret it, but I need it.”
“Sweet Pea,” Joyce began, “you had Demeshia before and you lost her by nobody’s fault but your own.”
Parrish finally looked up. “What? She was the one who broke up with me.”
“And that was it?” Joyce questioned. “No explanations, no discussions? She just said it was over huh?”
“Well…no. No, but Ma she was trying to change me and-”
“You couldn’t have that? Big, bad Parrish Jeffries couldn’t bend a little for the girl he says he loves?”
“I do love her.” Parrish firmly assured his mother. “Alright…alright you have a point, but what am I gonna do about it now. How am I gonna get her back?” He asked.
Joyce patted her son’s hand and stood from the table. “Give her some time. You’re just popping back into her life after fifteen years. Alot’s changed and you may have to accept the fact that she loves this man she’s going to marry. You just can’t push her baby. Question is, can you do that?” Pressing a soft kiss against his temple, she left the kitchen.
Parrish pushed his salad away and rested his head on the table. He stayed there for a long while contemplating his next move.
“Just doesn’t make sense…” Dee was saying to herself later that day. She was reviewing her notes from the meeting as well as some other material. Julian Reeves couldn’t be guilty. Leaning back in her chair, she took a long stretch. She’d removed the gold jacket to the matching dress she wore. As she sat behind her desk, a sudden chill came over her and she got up to turn on the heat. While Dee stood there waiting for the warmth to set in, she rubbed her arms to get the circulation going. Giving up, she headed to the coat rack for her jacket when her eyes fell to her wrist watch. Suddenly, something occurred to her and the jacket was forgotten. Rushing over to her desk, she picked up the phone and dialed the extension for Jimmy Rutherford, the paper’s head photographer.
In a matter of seconds, someone answered. “Rutherford.”
“Jimmy? It’s Dee. Look, do you remember that pumpkin festival we covered in that Brooklyn park about three months ago?”
“Pumpkins Dee? No. I have better things to do than remember pumpkin festivals.”
Dee sucked her teeth and held her forehead in her hand. She and Jimmy had never gotten along, but he had something she needed so she’d have to overlook him.
“Listen Jimmy, we took some pictures at that festival. I need to see them.”
“Alright, alright I’ll get ’em to you sometime.” Jimmy tiredly responded.
“No I need to see them now.”
“Dee I’ve too much to do than to go hunting for some pictures of a pumpkin!”
“Jimmy,” Dee quickly called, losing her patience, “if you snapped a picture of what I hope you did, it could change someone’s life drastically. So I suggest you get into that well organized file room of yours and find the damned pictures. Jimmy I’d really hate to get John Charles on your ass for this, but I’ll do it. You know I will.” She quietly added.
Jimmy swore silently, but knew better than to tangle with the insistent reporter. “You’ll have ’em in half an hour.”
“Thank you.” Dee said, before slamming the receiver down. As she massaged her temples, she heard a soft clapping coming from the doorway. “Parrish.” Dee said, becoming even more agitated.
“That was something else.” He said, crossing into the office. “I’m impressed.”
“Thanks. What are you doing here?”
“We didn’t finish our conversation.” He said, coming to sit on the edge of her desk.
Dee sighed and rolled her eyes. “If you want to talk about Joel, the answer is no. If you want to talk about Julian Reeves, that’s fine.”
Parrish’s wide, sensuous mouth curved into a heart stopping smile. “I might be willing to give you something on the case. For a price.”
Dee’s silky brows drew together in suspicion. “What price?”
“Dinner with me. Tonight.”
“No.” Dee shook her head. “If we talk, we talk here in my office.”
“What’s wrong?” Parrish leaned over her. He placed his hands on both sides of her chair, effectively trapping her. “Scared?” He teased. Lowering his mouth to the smooth column of her neck, he showered it with tiny kisses.
Dee almost melted beneath the caress, but fought it. “I’m not scared, but I can’t do this.” She said, getting up from the chair.
Parrish sat back on the edge of the desk and grabbed Dee’s arm before she could get too far. He pulled her until she was standing between his strong thighs. Settling his arms neatly around her waist, he caressed her back.
“You can’t do what Misha?” He asked, as his mouth lowered to hers.
Dee moaned as her lashes closed over her eyes. When Parrish’s tongue slipped past her lips into the sweet cavern of her mouth, the moan deepened. Dee wound her arms around his neck and let him have his way. The force of the kiss threatened to push her head all the way back, but she didn’t mind. As Dee’s fingers played at the soft hair tapering Parrish’s nape, Parrish’s fingers played all over her. He squeezed her breasts, loving their fullness and the hard feel of the nipples. Then, his hands moved lower to cup her full derriere through the clinging material of her stylish dress.
Dee tore her mouth away to whisper Parrish’s name. He took the opportunity to lavish soft open-mouthed kisses to the side of her neck and the base of her throat. At that point, Dee lost all control and wanted nothing more than to have him make love to her then and there. Her eyes drifted open just in time to see Joel Monroe headed down the long corridor from the crack in the office door.
“Joel?” Dee whispered, as she broke away from Parrish and ran over to the door. Hoping that she didn’t smell of Parrish’s cologne, she waited for her fiancé to step inside.
Parrish simply watched with guarded eyes as Dee hugged and kissed the tall man on the cheek.
Joel Monroe gave a loving smile to his fiancée. “Hey baby, just came to see if you felt like getting some lunch?”
“Yeah, that would be nice.” Dee easily replied, smiling at Joel’s thoughtfulness. It was then she remembered Parrish behind her.
“Joel Monroe, I’d like for you to meet a friend of mine.” Dee said, slowly turning to face Parrish.
“Parrish Jeffries!” Joel exclaimed. “I heard you were coming to town, but I had no idea you knew Dee Dee.”
Parrish was so angry he could’ve burst, but he put his feelings aside. Smiling, he shook Joel’s hand. “Have we met?”
“No, but I’ve been a fan of your work since your early days practicing law.” Joel was saying. “How long have you two known each other?”
Parrish spoke to Joel but he was looking at Dee. “We dated in highschool.”
“Old flames, hmm?” Joel said in a teasing tone. “Well, since I’m not the jealous type, why don’t you have dinner with us Friday night?”
If Joel had turned around then, he would’ve seen the pleading look Dee was sending Parrish. Parrish saw it, but chose to ignore her. “I think I’d like that.” He replied. Dee shot him a deadly glare and turned away.
“Good,” Joel said, “here’s one of my cards and the dinner will start at seven. I’m having a few other people over too.”
“Well I appreciate the invitation and I’ll see you Friday night.” Parrish said to Joel, while shaking his hand. Then, he walked over to Dee. “Joel do you mind if Dee walks me to the elevator?” He smoothly asked, already gripping Dee’s arm.
Joel waved his hand as he picked up the phone. “Go ‘head.” He called.
When they were outside the office and walking to the elevator, Parrish bowed his head. “Mr. D was right, he is too old for you.” He whispered.
Dee took much offense to the remark. “He’s a better man than you’ll ever be.” She snapped.
Parrish’s heavy dark brows rose. “Really? Better at what? Helping you understand the stock market?” He teased.
“Jealousy doesn’t become you Parry.” Dee whispered, but her words were firm.
“And you’re not gonna do well hiding stuff.” He challenged.
“I have nothing to hide.” Dee’s tone was indignant.
Parrish laughed shortly and pointed down the hall. “You call what happened in there nothin’. If that was nothin’ Misha, then you and Mr. Rogers in there must have some sex life.”
“You get-” Dee began loudly, “You get the hell out of here.” She continued in a much lower voice.
Parrish only laughed, obviously pleased with himself. “Alright I’m goin’.”
“See you soon.” He softly promised. Leaning near, he pressed a soft kiss to the corner of Dee’s mouth. She pushed him away and looked around to see if Joel or anyone else saw them.
Parrish gave her a devilish wink before he stepped into the elevator that had just arrived.
Dee watched the doors close behind him and stood there for a moment before she headed down the hall.
“Joel, you didn’t have to invite Parrish.” She said, once she was back in the office.
“Why not? Ya’ll are old friends right?”
“Well then, I want to know all your friends better. Besides, we’ll all have a good time, so what’s there to worry about?”
Dee could think of plenty answers to that question, but she chose not to comment.
“Now, how about lunch?” Joel quietly asked, placing his arms around her waist.
“That sounds good.” Dee sighed, kissing his cheek. A knock at the door interrupted them a few seconds later.
Sandra Griffey, one of Jimmy Rutherford’s photographic assistants stood in the doorway. “Sorry to bother you Ms. Lincoln, but Jimmy told me to rush these pictures to you.”
At the mention of the pictures, Dee broke away from Joel. “It’s okay Sandra, thanks.” She said, taking the pictures. After rummaging through the stack of photos for several seconds, she remembered Joel.
“I’ll be back for dinner.” Joel said, nodding his head.
“Thanks sweetie.” She said, relieved.
“No problem.” He assured her, kissing her before he headed out the door.
After Joel left, Dee sat back behind her desk and thought about how lucky she was to have him in her life. He was so sweet and understanding. He deserved to be with a woman who loved him more than anything…or anyone. Was she that woman?
Shaking her head at the thought, Dee concentrated on the photos. “Bingo.” She said when she found what she was looking for. Smiling, she picked up the phone.
January 18- 11:45am
Dee decided to go to the office later the following day. Lounging on her living room sofa, she read the morning edition of The Queen’s Herald. The second installment of stories on Julian Reeves, had made the front page. Although the writing was top notch, Dee hated having to write that particular installment. The story was a character assessment of Julian. It was about a young man who was instrumental in bettering conditions from the classroom to the streets of many black communities. It was also about a young man who could become very frustrated when change didn’t come fast enough. It was obvious, to herself at least, that Reeves was not guilty, but she had to tell both sides of the story.
A booming knock on the front door interrupted her thoughts. Frowning, Dee drew together the lapels of her burgundy terry cloth robe. When she opened the door, Parrish was standing there. A fierce scowl darkened his very gorgeous face.
“Why in hell are you banging on my door so early in the morning?” Dee hissed.
“What the hell is this, Misha?” He tossed the paper at her and pushed past the door.
Dee watched him walk in the livingroom and toss his coat to her sofa. She looked down at the paper in her hands. “It’s the morning edition of The Queen’s Herald, why?”
Parrish shot her a furious glance. “Don’t get cute Misha.”
“What do you want me to say Parrish?”
“Why’d you write that trash? You know as well as I do that the kid is innocent!”
Dee lost her temper at that point. “If you’d shut up for one second, I could answer you!” Parrish raised one hand, but said nothing as he took a seat on the sofa.
“Thank you.” Dee sighed. “You might not like this Parrish, but my job demands me to be objective. With objectivity come facts. I have an obligation to report those facts even though I might not agree with them. I do believe Julian’s innocent, but I also have a job to do.”
When Dee finished speaking, Parrish just stared at her. Then, he began to clap. Dee just shook her head and turned away from him.
“Thank you for that quick lesson on reporting Ms. Lincoln.” Parrish said, coming to stand behind her. “Tell me, does being a reporter mean that you cut off your feelings too?”
“Parrish, I’m not going to stand here and argue with you about my job, so why don’t you just leave?”
Parrish smiled deviously at her comment. “Hmm…isn’t this familiar? You get upset, so you push me away.”
The statement peaked Dee’s curiosity. “What are you talking about?” She asked when she turned around.
“You know damn well what I’m talking about. It’s fifteen years ago all over again. Instead of gettin’ everything out in the open, you just prefer to push me away and be done with it. I came over here to talk about this story. Julian didn’t deserve this, writing about his temper and everything. He isn’t a murderer and this story will only make it harder on him. I wonder if you even care.”
Dee stared at Parrish for a long time before she spoke. “What kind of person do you think I am? I didn’t intentionally set out to hurt Julian, but I had a job to do. Now since we’re talking about the past, let’s get it right. If you recall, I tried to talk to you, but you made it clear that I was wasting my time. What was I supposed to do?”
“You weren’t supposed to break up with me.” He said, turning away from her and running a hand over his soft hair.
“Well, things happen and like you said, that was fifteen years ago.” Dee reminded him, trying to sound cool and reserved.
“Yes it was Misha, but you still love me. Years apart didn’t change that.” He said, walking toward her.
Dee closed her eyes momentarily and took a deep breath. “Parry, please don’t.”
“Why not?” He came close. “You tryin’ to be a good girl for Joel?”
“I said don’t.” Dee pushed her hands against the steel wall of his chest. Before she could pull her hands away, Parrish grabbed her wrists and pulled her next to him, bringing his mouth to hers and thrusting his tongue deep inside.
Dee thought her knees would give as the kiss became hotter and wetter. The man could always kiss, she thought. His tongue caressed over and under hers and Dee hardly noticed that he’d undone her robe. She moaned when she felt his hands massaging her bare back before they went lower…
“Don’t stop me Misha.” Parrish whispered to her.
Dee could only moan while his lips touched the side of her neck. He lifted her next to him and they kissed again.
The ringing phone interrupted them before they could fall to the couch. Pushing away, Dee stared at Parrish for a few seconds before she rushed to answer the phone.
“Hello?…Hey Sheila…What?…No it’s a casual party. Just wear somethin’ simple.” Dee heard Parrish give an irritated sigh at her mention of the party. For sheer spite, she continued to talk. “What?…Yeah Joel can’t wait, he loves a party…I think Joel loves everything.”
Parrish felt his temper becoming more and more heated. He tried to wait until Dee got off the phone with his sister, but she kept right on talking. Parrish knew she was doing it out of simple spite, so he finally walked over and took the phone out of her hand.
“Sheila…Yeah it’s me. Listen, Dee’ll have to call you back.” He informed her, before hanging up the phone.
“Have you forgotten that this is my house?” Dee sneered
“Yeah this is your house, but that call was strictly for my benefit.”
Dee pushed hair away from her face. “You still think everything revolves around you.”
Parrish gave her a devious wink. “Where you’re concerned, everything does.”
Dee glared at him in total disbelief. Then she shook her head. “Still a jackass.” She whispered.
Parrish’s smile was grim. “Mmm hmm. Now Misha I hope you don’t want me to resort to name calling too? ‘Cause I’ve got a few good ones for you.”
“Get out.” She pointed towards the door.
Just as well for Parrish felt his tolerance nearing its end.
“Damn!” Dee vented once she was alone again. As usual, things had gotten completely out of hand.
It was a wonder that Parrish didn’t put any new cracks in the sidewalk as he stomped to his car. The woman could always make him so angry. He thought he’d managed to control his temper, but just a couple of days seeing Dee had changed all that. Parrish was so furious that he didn’t notice David Lincoln pulling up in his navy Chrysler.
David had decided to come and apologize to his daughter for his behavior at lunch the previous day. He saw Parrish rushing down the sidewalk just as he shut the car off. From the look on the younger man’s face, it was obvious something was wrong.
“Parrish?” David called, watching Parrish open his car door.
When Parrish turned and saw Demeshia’s father, he held his head down. “How you doin’ Mr. D?” He asked.
David laughed and leaned against the front of his car, “Maybe I should be asking you that.”
Parrish decided to drop the act in front of the man who’d always been like a father to him. “Mr. D, no offense, but your daughter…” He trailed away.
“Is getting on your damn nerves?” David finished.
Parrish gave a short laugh, pressing his thumb to his bottom lip as he leaned against the hood of his car. “That ain’t the half of it.” He sighed.
“So what’s the problem?” David asked.
Parrish shrugged. “I love her.” He simply replied. “I still love her.”
“That doesn’t sound like a problem to me.” David argued.
“Mr. D she’s getting married this summer.” Parrish reminded him.
“The guy is too old for her. She’ll be bored to death within a month.”
David looked up. “You met him?”
Parrish nodded. “Mmm hmm, yesterday at her office.”
Suddenly, David began to laugh. Parrish joined in not long after. The two handsome men were a sight to behold as they stood there rolling with laughter over an unspoken joke.
Dee witnessed the scene between her father and Parrish by peeking out of the livingroom window. Although she couldn’t hear what was being said, when she saw them laughing a soft smile brightened her lovely face. Her father soon shook Parrish’s hand and waved him off. Dee let the mauve drapes fall back into place as her father headed to the front door. She waited for a few seconds before answering the ring. She didn’t want her father to think she’d been aware of his presence beforehand.
“Hey Daddy!” She greeted in mock surprise, when she finally pulled the door open.
David held his daughter close. “Baby,” He sighed the endearment.
Dee pulled away and frowned at him. “Why are you here so early?”
David walked on into his daughter’s cozy home. “I came to apologize for yesterday.”
“Oh.” Dee said, closing the door then.
“Baby I’m sorry. I just get carried away when it comes to your happiness.”
“But I am happy.” Dee assured him.
“Not as happy as you’d be with Parrish.”
“He still loves you.”
David held up his hands and said nothing further on the subject. No matter, he could tell his words got to Dee more than she was willing to admit.
MORE TO COME…